by: Andy Langridge [ ]
The Stalwart was a private venture by Alvis that was adopted and entered service with the British Army in 1966 as a general transport truck. It was one of the same lines of vehicles that included the Alvis Saracen, Saladin and Salamander. The high mobility and amphibious capabilities were considered ideal for re-supplying units in the field.
The hull is the vehicle chassis, the engine is situated under the load deck in the rear of the hull and the gearboxes, differentials and transfer boxes forward of this. The load deck was open-topped with large drop down panels on either side. Waterproof seals ensured that these would not leak when in the water. The three man cab has the driver's position in the centre and a seat for a passenger either side. The cab can only be entered through roof hatches.
The Stalwart could carry 5 tonnes of stores, or tow 10 tonnes.
In the water it was driven by vectored thrust water-jet propulsion units at about 6 knots.
The Stalwart's impressive over-terrain capabilities came from the fact that the 6-wheel-drive system lacked differentials, using simple bevel gears to transmit drive. A centre mounted no-spin differential allowed a certain amount of slip between the two sets of wheels on each side of the vehicle on hard surfaces, but there was no allowance for rotational speed differences between front and rear. The centre no-spin unit allowed the wheels on either side of the vehicle with most grip to drive when off-road. This had the effect of making the vehicle appear to crab (move from side to side) when negotiating muddy conditions, thus making the Stalwart a true 6-wheel-drive vehicle, with 3 wheels locked together and turning at the same speed.
However, this system caused 'wind up' in the transmission (inter-component stress) as all the wheels were forced to rotate at the same speed, which during cornering is impossible. This led to rapid wear and breakage of the bevel gear boxes if the vehicle was used on firm surfaces such as tarmac or concrete – in off-road conditions the natural 'slip' of a loose surface such as mud or gravel prevented 'wind up'.
During military use the problem of transmission 'wind up' was solved by laying out railway sleepers in a grid on flat ground and driving over them if on long road moves, this allowed the transmission to 'unwind'. Another problem with the transmission was that the vehicle was designed to be driven 'loaded'. Driving it 'unloaded' caused increased wear on the drivelines to the wheels as a result of the increased angle of mesh of the joints.
The parts break down as follows:
Resin parts: 302
Clear parts: 1 sheet of acetate
Styrene Parts – 4 Strips of Plastic-card
Photo etched parts: - 67
various bits of wire, solder and thread for tow ropes etc.
Decals for 5 different vehicles
The kit comes packed in a sturdy cardboard box, with a color photo of the finished kit on the top.
Opening the box you see the 16 page colour instruction booklet, A5 in size, a bag containing the decals, PE, styrene strips, wire etc, 5 bags of resin parts and the hull, which is a large casting not bagged at the bottom (I was going to say loose, but the box is full, careful repacking is needed to get the lid back on!)
The instruction booklet is four sheets of A4 paper folded to make a sixteen page booklet. The front page of the booklet has two colour photos of the completed model. Page 2 of the instructions have the standard general safety procedures, and construction guidelines for multi media kits, with the construction instructions proper starting on page 3, with the hull and suspension, this continues onto pages 4 and 5. Page 5 also includes the fitting of the water jets and other lower hull parts. Pages 6 and 7 cover the load bed and drop sides, with the start of the interior of the cab at the bottom of page 7. Pages 8 and 9 cover the remains of the interior cab and the exterior. Page 10 covers the construction of the crane, instructions are provided for both extended and retracted positions of the crane. Page 11 covers construction of the tilt cover for the load bed. The remains of the instruction booklet have photos of the finished kit, the Painting guide, which is quite detailed and the parts list.
All of the resin parts are cast in Accurate Armour’s standard medium gray resin.
This is a single piece casting, which has no casting block, and only a small amount of clean up needed where the block have been removed. There is no evidence of flash, and the detail on the cargo bed floor is very nicely done.
Bag Number 1
This contains the floor of the cab, the cab section itself, the entrance hatches, load bay separator, exhaust and bilge ports. All of these parts have a small amount of flash, but nothing to worry about. One of the entrance hatches is cast very thin (almost transparent), so a degree of care will need to be taken with this. A quick test fit of the cab to the hull section shows that these parts will need very little sanding to fit.
Bag Number 2
This contains the wheels and wishbone units, there seem to be a couple of air holes in a couple of the wheels, but nothing to detract from the overall quality of the kit. The wheels are molded with flats where the cast blocks attach.
Bag Number 3
The third bag contains the cover plate for the bottom of the hull, the drop sides and the bulkhead that separates the cab from the load bay. The drop sides are slightly warped, but not so much that the heat gun/warm water approach can't fix it.
Bag Number 4
This bag contains the remainder of the suspension and interior parts for the standard stalwart, a lot of small parts in this bag, but all seem to have survived the packing process and transport from Scotland. Casting blocks are minimal in size, and appear to have been placed so as to make cleanup as easy as possible.
Bag Number 5
This last bag contains the REME Specific parts of the kit, the crane and its associated parts. The REME crane is different to that crane fitted to the Artillery limber version. The only pary I have any concern about is part 158 – the rear stowage bin. This is cast with ropes, jerry cans and oil drums inside, but the problem is the mesh, which is cast as part of the part, and seems to have a large amount of flash in the mesh.
A single fret of photo etched brass is included. This includes the small parts such as windscreen wipers, and various etched mesh inlet covers and grills.
I am very impressed with the quality of this kit; the resin parts are extremely well made. The accuracy of the kit overall looks very good, when compared to the references available.
A nice touch is the way that the wheels as standard are in the turned position, this is good as both the front and middle wheels move, and the geometry of this is sorted out. There are two different types of radio supplied (Clansmen and Larkspur) and the correct aerial mount for both of these.
The only downside is part 158, as mentioned above the mesh is full of flash, and I think this part may have to be replaced with something scratch built.
This is the only major fault that I can see in the kit so far, and I'm docking 5% from its score on this account.